Friday, November 18, 2011

Hate All the Presidential Candidates?

The caption of this post is a question that I have to frankly have to answer with a resounding "Yes!" This blog looks at the growing insanity of the Republican party and it's current crop of would be presidential nominees. But, this blog is not exactly kind to Barack Obama who has displayed a continued spinelessness and willingness to break campaign promises while blaming others for his weasel like behavior (don't even get me going on his Christianist BFF's like Rick Warren). Enter a group called Americans Elect that would like to find a viable third party candidate and gain a nomination for the 2012 presidential contest. I like the concept, but given the sad truth is that money - rather than leadership skills, integrity, intelligence, etc. - ultimately decides nominations (and too often elections). A piece in the Daily Beast looks at the effort which seems pure at heart but likely ill-fated. Here are some highlights:

Tis the season for post-partisanship—again. Last week, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the patron saint of anti-Washington babble, flew to the nation’s capital to accuse “both parties” of “promis[ing] their constituents the world” and giving them “debt and a sluggish economy and anemic job growth” instead. Sen. John McCain, meanwhile, predicted that “unless both parties change, then I think [a third party] is an inevitability.” (“We aren’t doing anything for the people,” the Arizona Republican confessed.) Even Rick Perry got in on the act. “This is not the Democrats’ country or the Republicans’ country,” he told a crowd of Iowans. “This is our country.”

If such plague-on-both-your-houses rhetoric sends a thrill up your leg—and if you’d like to see some independent candidate trumpeting similar sentiments during next year’s presidential contest—then Americans Elect is the 501(c)(4) organization for you.

AE isn’t a third party so much as a “second way” to nominate a president. “Given the level of frustration with the parties, running outside of the two-party system will be a huge asset in 2012, not a liability,” insists Elliot Ackerman, the group’s COO.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Americans Elect gathers the signatures required to get on the ballot in all 50 states. (So far, they’ve collected nearly 2 million—two thirds of their goal.) Meanwhile, the group’s 200,000-plus “delegates” gather at, answering questions about their views, assembling heterodox policy platforms, and pledging to support their favorite politicians, military leaders, CEOs, college presidents, and ordinary citizens. As long as you’re a registered voter, you’re welcome to participate. In April 2012, successive rounds of online voting will winnow the sprawling field to six finalists. The six, assuming they all want in, will then have to select a running mate from outside their own party. Finally, in June, an Internet convention will choose a nominee to appear, nationwide, on Americans Elect’s ballot line—and at the fall debates, provided he or she clears 15 percent in the polls. The founders claim they have enough cash to go all the way; they’ve raised $21 million so far . . . .

The plan is clever, and the timing is good. President Obama is saddled with near-fatal polling numbers. The Republican Party is so desperate for an alternative to Mitt Romney that they’ve spent a month entertaining the possibility of President Herman Cain. Even Congress hates Congress, and nine out of 10 Americans are “frustrated” with the state of politics. Nearly two thirds of the country wants an independent candidate to run for president. There’s only one problem: who, exactly, will lead the charge?

Ackerman expects to see a few “draft movements” in which “a bunch of Americans get excited about a particular candidate” and convince him or her to run. Names will begin to surface in December.

The top target, however, may be Huntsman, who, with his business background, respectful demeanor, and relatively moderate record, best fits the mold of a “centrist” third-party candidate as imagined by “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” Beltway moderates who comprise the bulk of Americans Elect’s leaders and donors. Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller insists that his boss “is a lifelong Republican and he’s going to run for president as a Republican.” But AE’s brass seems to hope he’ll change his mind.

Fantasy baseball aside, it’s unlikely that any Americans Elect ticket will defy the laws of political gravity and win the White House next November. . . . . The best outcome for Americans Elect, then, may simply be to make a lot of Democrats and Republicans angry — a distinct possibility, given that no one has won the presidency by more than 10 percentage points since 1984. By playing the spoiler, Americans Elect could force the parties to take its direct-democracy methods seriously—and perhaps tinker with their polarizing primary systems in the process.

No comments: